Official Press Release
New York, New York (March 9, 2004) –American Book Award-winning comic book writer and pop-culture icon Harvey Pekar has signed with Ballantine Editor Chris Schluep to write three original graphic novels for Ballantine Books. In addition, Ballantine will publish an anthology of the best of Pekar's previously published stories from his critically acclaimed autobiographical comic book series, American Splendor. Pekar-whose quirky comic books have long had a cult following-gained international prominence last year after the extraordinary critical success of the Fine Line Features film American Splendor, which was based upon Pekar's comic book of the same name. The film won the Sundance Film Festival's Grand Jury Prize, the International Film Critics Association Award at Cannes International, and was film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay. American Splendor went on to be listed on over 200 national and international Top Tens lists.
"Harvey deserves every bit of recognition he's gotten," said Schluep. "The past year reads like one of Harvey's own stories-after decades of tireless work, he finds himself suddenly pronounced an overnight success."
Ballantine became interested in having Pekar write original graphic novels after publishing a successful film tie-in edition for American Splendor. "It was wonderful to publish Harvey on our list last summer," said Jennifer Osborne, Ballantine's Director of Licensing, who originally brought Pekar to Ballantine. "With the movie release, the world was re-introduced to a unique voice. By publishing in trade paperback format, with distribution into the mainstream bookstore channel, Ballantine is able to bring that unique voice to even more readers."
"The first book is a sequel of sorts to American Splendor," said Schluep, "and will chronicle Harvey and his family's extraordinary experiences in making the film." This title, together with the anthology of previously published materials, is scheduled for release in Fall 2004.
"The second two graphic novels will be biographical, rather than autobiographical," Schluep continued, "and will be based upon the lives of two fascinating but ordinary individuals that Harvey met during his American Splendor film experience." These are tentatively due to be released in Fall 2005 and Fall 2006.
Pekar's wife and sometimes-collaborator, Joyce Brabner, was thrilled by the new publishing partnership with Ballantine. "People have been frustrated for the last ten years or so. They've known Harvey's around, they've known he's alive, but they can't find his stuff anywhere. Now, publishing with Ballantine, the work will have a much wider distribution and Harvey will find a much broader audience. And now," Brabner added with a grin, "we can at last afford to add protein to our diet."
About Ballantine Books:
Ballantine Books, an imprint of the Random House Publishing Group, is one of America's largest publishers of hardcover, trade paperback, and mass market paperback books. Founded in 1952, Ballantine was acquired by Random House, Inc. in 1973. Its imprints include Ballantine Books, Ballantine Reader's Circle, Del Rey, Del Rey/LucasBooks, Fawcett, Ivy, One World, Strivers Row and Presidio Press. For more information about Ballantine, please visit our website at www.ballantinebooks.com.